After officially ending her career with a first-round doubles loss at the recently-finished French Open, Czech five-time doubles Grand Slam champion Lucie Safarova is looking back at her tennis development with a series of childhood photos on Instagram, so I thought it would be nice to add them to my Little Tennis Stars page.
The 32-year-old Safarova, former No.5 in singles and No.1 in doubles, opened her throwback series with this lovely old photo, which kept motivating the WTA star to keep going during the tough times of her career:
This is how my story started… with my dad following my big sister. He taught us both until we were ten. Hitting balls first in living room and then on the court. He was strict, but without him I would never make it. Thank you, dad, for all those hours and dedication!
This is Safarova’s dad, Milan.
Then Safarova thanks her mom, Jana:
My journey wouldn’t be possible without my mom! She was the only one from our family who didn’t play tennis. She drove me to all kids’ tournaments, always being supportive and no matter win or lose she gave me that mama hug full of love. She is my big stable stone in life, taught me to always be polite, nice and positive. She is the best mom and I wish I could be one day the same mom for my kids as she is for us.
Sister Veronika also has a special role in Lucie’s life:
We are ten years apart, so I sometimes say she is my second mom. She was the first I called after matches, always has my back, is my closest friend, advisor. She always tells me the truth, even if I don’t want to hear it. She was through it all with me. We laughed together and celebrated the wins, and we cried together when I was through bad losses, injuries or sicknesses. She flew all the way from NY for my French Open finals or Wimby semis just for a day and, when I needed, she left work and came to coach and support me. She even cooks food when I come late from the airport, so I don’t get hungry. That’s my BIG sister V! Love you so much and thank you for all you did and do for me!
Safarova states Steffi Graf as her idol and in the photo series on Instagram she shares a lovely childhood photo with her most admired tennis player:
Every little tennis player needs a hero. For me it was Steffi Graf. I was able to meet her when my dad was working in Austria, where she was doing rehab after her injury. She saw me hitting with my dad and was so nice to hit with me a few balls. I joined her in her fitness sessions and talked to her multiple times. It meant the world to me! Fifteen years later, we talked on the phone and I was very surprised she had followed my career and it was a lovely call.
By the way, the WTA world celebrates Graf’s 50th birthday today.
Safarova won seven WTA singles titles, while she was doubles champion a total of 15 times. Her career was crowed with five major titles in doubles competition, won alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and the 2015 French Open runner-up finish in singles. Moreover, she won the 2016 Olympic bronze medal partnered with Barbora Strycova.